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Upperstall Review


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Sillunu Oru Kaadhal


Tamil, Drama, 2006, Color

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Gowtham (Suriya) and Kundhavi (Jyothika) are married much against their wishes. Six years later, they seem to have come to terms with it being a perfect married couple in Mumbai with a little daughter, Aishwarya (Shreya Sharma). Gowtham, a mechanic and an engineering graduate is sent to New York to present a paper. In his absense while helping her daughter to build an insect box, Kundhavi comes across Gowtham's old diary. Reading it, she finds out Gowtham was quite the college rowdy and fell in love with an MP's daughter, Aishwarya (Bhumika Chawla). Knowing her father would oppose the romance, they decide to elope and have a registered marriage. However, the MP lands up there with his thugs and separates the two even though Gowtham has already tied the sacred thread around Aishwarya. Gowtham is beaten up badly while Aishwarya is sent away and Gowtham is unable to trace her out. Gowtham's uncle wants him to get on with his life and in his dying wish, asks him to marry Kundhavi. Gowtham states in his diary that if he had been able to spend one day of married life with Aishwarya, it would have been equivalent to a lifetime for him. Kundhavi is shattered and when Gowtham returns, she distances herself from him. They reconcile when she realizes how much Gowtham loves her. She traces out Aishwarya who has returned from Australia, a 'mod' rebel having turned against her father, to see her dying mother. Kundhavi traces out Asihwarya and grants Gowtham the one day he wanted with her fully aware that she stands to lose everything in the process...

Considering the talent involved, Sillunu Oru Kaadhal has to be one of the most disappointing films seen by me in recent times. More so, when you cannot really fault Suriya's efficient enough central performance, RD Rajasekar's polished cinematography or AR Rahman's wonderful musical score. The film is done in by an idiotic story made worse due to ineffectual treatment, a terribly weak screenplay and absolutely inept direction. Supposed to be an exploration of love at various stages of a man's life, the film is stereotypical and is quite the exercise in utter boredom. Thanks to its formulaic views, the screenplay, filled with done-to-death situations, actually skims over portions that if looked at, could have made for far more intesting viewing and given the film a perspective and attitute. As it is, it has none.

The Gowtham - Kundhavi relationship begins intriguingly as they are both forced into an arranged marriage that both appear clearly unhappy with. You wonder what's going to happen to this couple when bham! Cut to six years later and suddenly this is an ideal filmi marriage, cute family complete with precocious daughter and all and life is but a dream. The developing relationship between Gowtham and Kundhavi is conveniently not thought important and what we're left with is a typical situation that an arranged marriage ultimately works out well. Especially so in an Indian film with good old Indian values. Sadly, even if we've had to forgo the developing scenes of this marriage, the 'cutesy' ones showing how well it's working don't really work well either - the family whistling entire conversations to each other, Gowtham getting sozzled and yelling to the world what a lucky man he is middle of the night or the couple making up with each other after the mother and daughter stand out in the pouring rain and get drenched following a fight between the couple! Really!

Nothing really then happens in the film for much of the first half till Gowtham goes to New York and Kundhavi finds his old diary wherein she learns of his earlier love, Aishwarya. (Oh and of course their cute bubbly daughter is called Aishwarya! Oh well, never mind) Whatever little conflict there is in the film is after this and even that too is extremely weakly handled. Kundhavi distances herself from Gowtham when he returns without the poor guy realizing what's happened behind his back. The two start talking through the daughter and when his daughter asks him how much he loves her mother, he gives her a diary to read saying he had stopped writing a diary for 6 years but in New York, he had to since he missed her mother. Kundhavi reads this and all is forgiven as she apologizes for distancing herself from him!

The essence of any good relationship is communication and openess. If Gowtham hasn't told Kundhavi about his past, which comes as a shock to her, now after aologizing to him, she goes and fixes up his one day with Aishwarya behind his back! When he questions her on this, she gives him this whole talk of because she loves him! Really, when will our films get out of the bura hai ya bhala hai kaisa bhi hai mera pati mera devata hai syndrome? Why, they couldn't talk things through like a sensible, mature couple beats me. But then maybe there wouldn't have been any film at all.

Even the love story of Aishwarya - Gowtham, supposedly a cute college romance as against Gowtham and Kundhavi's mature love story, fails to bring the film to life. There is nothing novel or fresh in the treatment and Bhumika seems to be repeating her Tere Naam act of the simpering simple girl falling in love with the rowdy. The scene where she declares her love to him is gobsmacking to say the least.

The key sequence of the one day that Aishwarya and Gowtham are to spend together is the film's biggest let down by far. What could have been an intriguing and the most interesting part of the film trying to see Gowtham come to terms with his feelings ultimately falls flat as the film tries to be too clever for its own good. It shows it to be a day of enjoyment between the two of them, rekindling ther relationship as Aishwarya tries to get him to be the Gowtham of their college days. And finally as they go to bed, it is all revealed to be Kundhavi's imagination! Meanwhile, we are told through a letter left for Kundhavi by Aishwarya what actually happened. Thus a key moment of two old lovers coming face to face with their lives at a crossroads is coolly skimmed over. Also, Aishwarya leaves within an hour of meeting Gowtham realizing they have no future but no, he doesn't call Kundhavi. She comes home late at night to see what has happened following his day with Aishwarya and finds her husband there at home - again, such wonderful communication between a happily married made-for-each-other couple!

If the main story has its huge share of problems, less said about the comedy track the better. This is easily the most unfunny that one has seen Vadivelu and frankly, the scenes with him are unbearable. Leave alone the comedy track, there are other scenes that baffle you as to why they are there. Gowtham spotting Aishwarya's father for one in Mumbai. Apart from the momentary intrigue and cheap thrill, this does nothing for the film whatsoever.

Suriya does what he can and gives a reliably efficient performance but it has to be said, the script doesn't give him much to work with. Still, he is able to contrast the two key stages in his life - as the college rowdy and as the mellowed-down-but-with-anger-under-the-surface married man rather well even if he looks a mite too old for the college student he is supposed to be. Of course, there are certain sequences, he carries off in his usual brilliant style. Just see the confusion flitting across his face as he opens the door and finds Aishwarya standing there. Or the scene where Kundhavi tells him she got Aishwarya there because she loves him. Though its essentially Jyothika's scene, it is Suriya who lifts it with his subtle reactions. Jyothika is adequate enough and actually manages to carry off her key scene when she explains to him that she did everything because she loved him but is totally OTT in the sequences following the revelation of her imagination. Bhumika is bearable enough as the simple college girl but is plain embarrasssing as the mod Aussie returned rebel. Sukanya as Jyothika's boss adds nothing to the film.

Technically, the film is polished. Special mention must be mentioned of RD Rajasekar's fine and evocative camerawork, Anthony's editing which tries to stick to the storyline rather than being obviously flashy (a noteable exception though is the totally overcut sequence where Kundhavi keeps getting images of Aishwarya and Gowtham in bed) and of course, AR Rahman's absolutely brilliant musical score - New York Nagram, Kummi Adi and Munbe Vaa being particularly well composed and decently picturised even if New York Nagram is not picturised in New York. Couldn't the script have followed which city the song was picturised in and have Gowtham going there??? Some of the 'cute' scenes in Munbe Vaa are too self-consiously cute like the coffee and straw scene but it has to be said it is wonderfully rendered by Shreya Ghoshal and Naresh Iyer. Machakari doesn't quite have the impact it should have had, though in spite of the fine vocalising by Shankar Mahadevan and Vasundhara Das.

All in all, highly disappointing and non-happening.

Upperstall review by: Karan Bali aka TheThirdMan

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